When I became single, I had to carve out some survival rules. I had been in a relationship since I was 18 (and now I was turning 30). I didn’t have my own bank account, I had no idea I could fall asleep alone, I was used to squeezing all my make-up on the shared sink – in other words, I had no idea on how to navigate the world without a partner. When I became single, all I had was:
- a 3 year old toddler and a 12 month old baby
- a badly paid career as a screenwriter and book author
- no money in savings or investments
- an old car and no proprieties to live in
- oh, and I was 29 years old
Being a young mother raising alone two young children: very fun, but very scary.
Slowly but organically, I drew those rules of how to survive as a single self in this world. It doesn’t matter if you are a mother or not, which gender you identify with or what your sexual orientation is. This is all completely secondary to being in a relationship. All those lightbulbs that came to me slowly but surely were about self, my-self: the thing inside of us that precedes everything that comes after.
First Rule: don't rush things
The father of my kids left our home on a Monday evening. I was relieved – extremely – yet completely destroyed. The following Saturday, a group of three very generous and single girlfriends literally picked me up from my bed and took me to a small concert. As we got there, I decided to pay for the first round of drinks – the least I could do. I was that girl you see on the movies trying to grab the overwhelmed bartender’s attention. It got me forever to get the four longnecks, and by the time I turned around I could not find my group.
As I scouted around, I found one of them in the middle of the ballroom sexily dancing with a guy. I slid her the beer, she blinked back and continued to dance. I found my second girlfriend in a corner, kissing a random guy like there was no tomorrow. I didn’t even deliver the beer bottle – she was really in the middle of it. My last girlfriend was making out with another girl near the stage – I gave her and her pair the remaining two beers.
I took some steps back to drink my own beer and observe how humans had evolved during those 12 years I had been in a committed relationship. Back when I dated, we used to talk for hours before holding hands or kissing – now, kissing came first, at least for that group of people I was with. Also, back when I dated, going to a concert with friends was much more about sticking together, enjoying the music and having a girl’s night out than fixing yourself a date. But the world had changed and I had to adapt now.
I got scared and felt removed from that scene – could I ever fit in? How could I back to the world when I don’t even know the new rules? How and where would I learn them? Well, the answer to those questions took me very long: I had to make new rules that would allow me to integrate who I was with the world I was now in. A single working mother of two.
That night, as I finished my beer thinking that I would be forever single, I realized I had to step back and sit with my feelings. So I stayed at the concert for another 20 minutes, got a cab and headed home. It was all too much, too soon. And then, as I got home and went to check on my sleeping girls, my first lesson about how to be single again came to me: I had to respect myself and my limits, and not push into something that would, somehow, violate my core.
Single Survival Rules
- Take your time. Every person is different, every break up is a new cycle. - Grief the end of the relationship. You lost someone who is still alive – but you lost them. - Look at yourself as a whole, not a half. Know that nobody else but you can fill your void. So be comfortable with yourself. - First commit to the process. Then commit to yourself. The last step is committing to another person and to a relationship. - Follow Saramago's wise advice:
*In the next posts, I will be sharing with you some of my life rules as a single / working / mother, as I go over episodes that changed my life and who I am. Subscribe for be in the loop!